Saturday, August 30, 2014

No Joke

Kyle Smith (NY Post), using the example of "Saturday Night Live", illustrates how the main stream popular culture protects Barack Obama from criticism.

We learn this from Jim Downey, the longtime “Saturday Night Live” specialist in political japery. “If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, ‘Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10,’” the writer says in the expanded new edition of the “SNL” oral history book, “Live from New York.”
“It’s like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled,” Downey says. “There’s not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature. [Al] Gore had these ‘handles,’ so did Bush, and Sarah Palin, and even Hillary had them. But with Obama, it was the phenomenon — less about him and more about the effect he had on other people and the way he changed their behavior. So that’s the way I wrote him.”

Got that? The charter Choom Ganger, confessed eater of dog and snorter of coke. The doofus who thinks the language spoken by Austrians is “Austrian,” that you pronounce the p in “corpsman” and that ATMs are the reason why job growth is sluggish. The egomaniac who gave the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches and said he was better at everything than the people who work for him. The empty suit with so little real-world knowledge that he referred to his brief stint working for an ordinary profit-seeking company as time “behind enemy lines.” The phony who tells everyone he’s from Chicago, though he didn’t live there until his 20s, and lets you know that he’s talking to people he believes to be stupid by droppin’ his g’s. The world-saving Kal-El from a distant solar system who told us he’d heal the planet and cause the oceans to stop rising. The guy who shared a middle name with one of the most hated dictators on earth.

Nope, nothing there to mock. No way to get a grip on this polished, oiled obsidian. So comedy writers didn’t and mostly still don’t. Jim Downey isn’t in dereliction of his comedy duty to take down the high and the mighty, or so he begs you to think. He’s just too obtuse to see Scrooge McDuck quantities of comedy gold when they’re sitting right in front of him. Did Sarah Palin lack for material to lampoon when she blasted away at Obama in her 2008 convention speech?

My own attempt at Obama-based humor can be seen here. If I may say so, it's wittier than that lame SNL skit accompanying Smith's column and I'm paid quite a bit less than SNL writers and actors.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wherefore Inequality

Kevin Williamson uses the occasion of the Ferguson affair to recite the admittedly well-worn, (though spot-on), conservative indictment of urban progressivism.

The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black. The most pronounced economic inequality in the United States is not in some Republican redoubt in Texas but in San Francisco, an extraordinarily expensive city in which half of all black households make do with less than $25,000 a year. Blacks in San Francisco are arrested on drug felonies at ten times their share of the general population. At 6 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of those arrested for homicides. Whether you believe that that is the result of a racially biased criminal-justice system or the result of higher crime incidence related to socioeconomic conditions within black communities (or some combination of those factors) what is undeniable is that results for black Americans are far worse in our most progressive, Democrat-dominated cities than they are elsewhere. The progressives have had the run of things for a generation in these cities, and the results are precisely what you see.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This And That

Catch that headline in the Times a few days ago? No?


Miscellaneous commentary --

WSJ Editors --

The Obama Administration was so preoccupied with a grand political solution in Baghdad that for weeks it refused to arm the Kurds for fear of offending Mr. Maliki, even as it was urging Mr. Maliki to resign. How's that for consistent logic?

Victor Davis Hanson --

Did a law contribute to Obama’s concept of social justice, and did it further the progressive political cause? If the answer was no to either, the statute was largely unenforced. No president since World War II has done more to harm the U.S. Constitution — by ordering the executive branch not to enforce particular laws, by creating by fiat laws never enacted by Congress, by monitoring the communications of journalists and average Americans, by making appointments contrary to law — to the apparent yawns of the people.

It may turn out that Democracy was a noble idea doomed to failure because of an inherent human need to be ruled. A few more elections empowering a small group of elitist despots and there may be no turning back on the road to serfdom. Andrew Klavan comments on the ideology responsible for the turn towards tyranny.

Progressivism stinks so badly of past prejudices and hatreds because progressivism is inherently a regressive philosophy. Everywhere and always, the left supports one thing: rule by force. Taking an individual’s property by force, overriding an individual’s conscience by force, silencing individual dissent by force. It’s the oldest form of government there is, and the left wants to bring it back. No wonder they sound so old fashioned. For them, tomorrow is yesterday.

Jeff Jacoby, commenting on the sharp leftward turn Democrats have taken just over the past two decades --

The law (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act) that Hillary Clinton and the others find so disturbing now was, of course, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Congress had passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support; Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch were the lead Senate sponsors. "Let us never believe that the freedom of religion imposes on any of us some responsibility to run from our convictions," Clinton said at the signing ceremony. "Let us instead respect one another's faiths, fight to the death to preserve the rights of every American to practice [their] convictions." Most Democrats then, like most Republicans, shared that view.
Bill Clinton's religious freedom law isn't the only one that liberal Democrats today look upon with disdain.
It was Clinton who signed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 1993 and the Defense of Marriage Act three years later. He and Vice President Al Gore fought hard for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton enacted the Helms-Burton Act, which extended and codified US economic sanctions against Cuba. And he signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, making it the policy of the United States "to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power." Two months later, Clinton ordered a major bombing campaign against Iraqi targets, saying Saddam "must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world" with weapons of mass destruction. 
The last Democratic president signed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and followed it up with four years of federal budget surpluses the first in three decades. He signed tax relief that reduced the top capital-gains tax rate from 28 percent to 20 percent. But his most important domestic legislative achievement was unquestionably welfare reform. In his first State of the Union address, Clinton had promised to "end welfare as we know it," and through a blend of work requirements and benefit limits, the welfare-reform law he endorsed in August 1996 did so. The nation's welfare caseload plummeted by 54 percent over the next decade, and as millions of mothers went to work, child poverty rates plunged too.

Kyle Smith, NY Post --

One of these words is not like the others (or maybe they're all pretty much the same — you make the call): Loon, nutjob, crank, wingnut, whackjob, cuckoo, crackpot, dingbat, wacko, conservative.
Can't spot the outlier? You might be a liberal. Because even among the Very Serious and Highly Respected voices on the left, "conservative" and "crazy" are synonyms.
A recent example: A highly acclaimed book that examines the conservative movement in the 1970s, Rick Perlstein's "The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan." The book is the kind of thing that liberals praise as an evenhanded portrait of the Right. You know, kinda like how "Super Size Me" was totally fair about McDonald's.
What about the liberal writers who make no pretense whatsoever of understanding their ideological opposites? Here's a partial list of the hundreds of conservatives who have been labeled "wingnut" by alone: Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, columnist Jonah Goldberg, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (and his predecessor Eric Cantor), the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Chris Christie.
If these people and institutions are cuckoo, then conservatism itself is crazy. And that is exactly what liberals think. (Sometimes this tendency takes eccentric form, as when liberals argue that it's "crazy" not to panic about climate change.)
Liberals hope to tag completely mainstream conservative thought as outside the boundaries of polite discourse, but the electorate keeps refusing to comply by, for instance, electing a Congress designed to serve as a stalwart check on progressivism for 16 of the last 20 years. This is baffling to liberals.
Mark Steyn --
...getting your pension fund to divest from Israel, the 21st century equivalent of getting your country club to nix the Jews.

Kevin Williamson --

The Israeli Jews, practically alone among the world’s living things, are expected to make allowances for the well-being of those who are trying to exterminate them.